Work-life balance is impossible. While women leaders and male allies want to achieve perfect balance between work and life, our research has found that this is not a realistic expectation for working families. The two spheres live in conflict, where work may dominate one week, and life (family, caretaking, and self-care) may dominate the next. It’s more like a teeter totter than a perfect balance beam.
In our work with women’s leadership groups, our survey data revealed the top challenge for the overwhelming majority of members is balancing work and life. Digging into the facts, it is understandable that this challenge largely falls on women.
- Women still spend more time on household labor averaging 2 hours and 15 minutes per day, while men average 1 hour and 25 minutes per day (a ratio of 62/38 women to men).
- From 1997-2015, the number of businesses increased by 51%. Of that increase, 74% of the companies are women owned.
- 24 million females in the U.S. care for others 25+ hours/week. In fact, they leave the workforce on average 12 years to care for children and relatives.
This illuminates the need for work-life integration for women leaders and families with dual careers. When women feel trapped in jobs without flexibility, they self-select out of rigid corporate America. If your organization is not engaging these women leaders, they are likely losing them. These are smart, talented people who could bring tremendous value to our economy and to organizations, yet we accept – and even encourage – opting-out of their careers. We make assumptions about the preference to be at home or need to be with the children, whereas the same assumptions are not often applied to working men.
With the challenge of managing work and life, women leaders tend to put themselves last. This is why we have a section in our new book ONE: How Men and Women Partner for Gender Equality (get your copy here) dedicated to practicing self-care.
Saying “Yes” to yourself is hard. Rather than saying “Yes” to everyone else, choose to say “Yes” to the right things. Remind yourself that you are saying “No” to a lot of things when you say “Yes” to the wrong things. For women looking to practice self-care, we share these strategies from ONE:
- Outsource activities you do not have the skill or will to do. For example, we hired a housekeeper to clean our house once a month, and have enjoyed the ROI of having more time with my family, and more energy and time to do the really important things professionally and personally.
- Say no to FOMO (fear of missing out). Prioritize what is important for you to be happy, overcoming the fear of missing out on the wrong things. Social media is a big influence here. Before you say “Yes,” remember it means “No” for something else that may be important. Do say “No” if something does not drive your happiness.
- Get more sleep. Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Unless you have a genetic mutation, this means you. Very few women we coach get the required seven hours of sleep per night, which is dangerous for their health.
- Implement the 80/20 rule. Make sure 80% of your energy is aligned with your “why”. Twenty percent is for the other stuff (routine tasks, things only you can do, etc.).
- Show compassion for others. Find everyday-ways to genuinely, meaningfully help others. Giving fuels our energy.
- Practice gratitude. Journal what you are grateful for each day. Intentionally choose to focus on what is good in your life.
- Have a plan. If you do not know what you want and where you’re going, you will fall victim to others deciding for you.
Remember that women leaders that practice self-care, manage their work and life more successfully. They have more energy to give to others, and are more likely to achieve career success and be happy personally as well.
We believe strongly in our message to spread male allyship and develop women leaders. If you do too, share our mantra below or post your stories and thoughts with these hashtags: #genderequality #ONE #heforshe #maleallies #femaleadvocacy.
I believe in gender equality. I believe women and men, partnering together for gender equality, is what is best for all humans. By collaborating together, we will improve the lives of future women leaders and girls who will grow up in a world where anything is possible. My voice matters. I make choices every day supporting gender equality. We are all in this together. I commit to supporting male allyship. We are stronger together. We are ONE.